Eventually, in every game, there are always some uniquely talented people who will stand out. Over the years, these people have been given worldwide recognition for their extraordinary talents and very advanced techniques that very, very few can match. In Blackjack, these people are inducted as members of the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Among the list of inductees, some have especially been brought to light and have become a subject of much interest by a lot of other people even by those who do not even play the game. This is not only because of these players'apparent genius but also because of the remarkable turn of events that their lives have been thrown into all because of the game of Blackjack. And when real life events get involved, what we actually get is definitely an intriguing and fascinating story to tell.
You have probably seen the movie 21 starring Kevin Spacey or read the book Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich. These productions are actually stories about him. Edward Oakley Thorp, born in August of 1932, was born with a powerful mathematical mind. At first he lead a typical life that is what could most seemingly be expected of mathematically oriented people: he excelled in his studies, got a PhD, and became a mathematics professor and lecturer at MIT until 1961. Eventually, his mathematical mind led him to a fascination with blackjack which put his genius to work. He learned one of the first programming languages called FORTRAN so that he could put into code his numerous probability and mathematical computations involved in the game of blackjack. This made him the first person to ever employ computer programming for gambling purposes. Along the way, he authored a book, another first, which proved blackjack can be beaten by Mathematics. He later experimented on his theories by playing in actual blackjack games in Las Vegas casinos and made a lot of money. Being a card counter, this put him in a dangerous position as he could probably get seriously hurt if found out by casino goons. This made him one of the very few applied mathematicians to risk himself in getting harmed physically just to prove his theories. With his newly created system of counting, he authored Beat the Dealer in 1962 and since then went into a series of exciting blackjack escapades, including a certain group of MIT students which he trained with his new system of counting. Although we only know as much about Thorp as BLACKJACK is concerned, he has also actually used his genius in the stock market industry and has also made a lot of money from it.
Ken Uston, whose mathematical talents have also drawn him into the world of blackjack, became especially famous because of his notoriety among casinos. Later in his Blackjack career, he could no longer enter any casino without having to disguise himself as another person. Ken Uston still worked millions out of these casinos even under the pressure of being caught in disguise. Ken's real name was Kenneth Senso Usui; at the age of 16 he was accepted in Yale University and later, in Harvard where he got his MBA. He went on to lead quite a normal life as he followed the footsteps of his businessman father and worked in the corporate word aside from his weekend escapades at casinos playing blackjack. It remained as simple as that until his girlfriend introduced him to Al Francesco, who led a blackjack card counting team. After this, he quit his job and joined the team and eventually formed his own team. Being very successful with his technique, he became notorious with casinos and was barred from entering, much more playing, in any of them. This is when he started playing at casinos disguised as another person. He and his team made millions. Aside from his professional blackjack career he also wrote books which became immediately popular with blackjack enthusiasts. With all the money he had, he led a life full of drugs and booze and was later found dead in his apartment. Doctors say it was because of a heart attack perpetrated by his unhealthy lifestyle.
Stanford Wong's real name is John Ferguson. He is a famous gambling author, professional blackjack player, owner of Pi Yee Press, a publishing company, and recognized member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame. His career as a teacher eventually left him discontented and actually allowed Stanford University to pay him only $1 to be allowed to be absent at faculty meetings so he could go off to the casinos and pursue his gambling career. He made popular a strategy which is now banned in most casinos. The name of the strategy is popularly known as"wonging" wherein a player only steps in the game during the time that the decks are favorable to him and immediately steps out as soon as the odds deteriorate. He has also published blackjack newsletters, first by print, and now through his website.
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